Dan Choi: ‘Being In The Closet Is a Poison’

On March 19, 2009, Dan Choi came out on Rachel Maddow’s television program. Last month, he was formally fired from the military for acknowledging he was not born heterosexual. On Thursday, he returned to Maddow’s show. He’s now a civilian for the first time since he was 18. His story is but one of thousands the U.S. government has voluntarily participated in.

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  • Scott NYC


    It’s not a surprise anymore. The National Guard has discharged you. Think of something else to do. Move on.

    You keep trying to turn this into some crazy dramatic victim story – it isn’t. Thousands have been discharged. Deal with it.

    Work to change the law – you’re not in the National Guard anymore. Figure out how to change minds and end this law. Don’t flash your uniform, figure out how to make a difference, not another photo op.

    The Law retired you. Retire the Law.

  • [email protected]

    He right and he’s also wrong. Being in the closet is not poison per se. The forces that closet people are the poison. The closeted are victims of it. Our lack of sympathy and empathy for our brothers and sisters who are these closeted victims is just as poisonous as the root causes behind their fear.

  • Chapeau

    @Dan —

    He is a victim along with the Thousands who have been discharged.

    Thank goodness for someone like Dan – he is a Gay EQuality Hero.

  • truthteller

    @ Scott NYC

    You wrote:

    “You keep trying to turn this into some crazy dramatic victim story – it isn’t. Thousands have been discharged. Deal with it.”

    “Don’t flash your uniform, figure out how to make a difference, not another photo op.”

    Translation: “Be a good victim and go away, quietly”

  • David

    Gee . . . I did that too . . . and the USAF kicked me out back in 1977. All part of my coming out of the closet process; very painful, yet very liberating. A hurricane of emotions, yes it is.

    Best thing to do is move on. Lobby for better laws, make a new life as a civilian.
    My guess is that Dan Choi will be much more useful and effective as a civilian. He’ll discover that on his own, no doubt . . .

    Best of everything . . . America needs more folks like him.

  • Michael @

    @Scott NYC:

    Your smart ass remarks float like scum on a pond. With gays like you attacking other gays who needs Elaine Donnelly?

    Let’s see what others have to say, with credentials one imagines are a little higher than yours:

    CONG. PATRICK MURPHY, Iraq veteran, former instructor at West Point, and our strongest straight ally in Congress; speaking after Dan’s first arrest at the White House:


    “Dan Choi is a hero.

    Gay former REAR ADMIRAL ALAN STEINMAN; one of the most respected leaders in the fight to end the ban, and one of those who met with the Obama transition team shortly before he was sworn in and urged him to not reappoint Gates and to personally put repeal in last year’s DEFAUTH; in an e-mail to Dan today I was copied on:



    Your courage in the fight to repeal DADT is an inspiration to all gay, lesbian and bisexual men and women who don the uniform in defense of our nation. I know you will not let your discharge discourage you; your public voice on this issue has done much to attract the attention of our country and shine a very bright light on the onerous and discriminatory law that is DADT. Please continue to speak out forcefully; our fight is not over yet, as you know only too well.

    Best Regards,

    Al Steinman”

  • WalkderDC

    Good Luck Dan, thanks for what you’ve done the past 2 years!

  • Lt Dan

    Does this mean another hunger strike? Too soon?

  • christopher di spirito

    Lt. Dan Choi is a good, decent, courageous man.

    I would like to see him replace the weak-as-water Joe Solmonese to head up the Human Rights Campaign. Choi would be excellent in that position.

  • Cam

    Watch for the HRC smear campaign.

    The current one they are trying…

    1. Even though HRC has never, despite many requests, released their actual membership numbers for dues paying members, (They claim that anybody who has purchased a bumper sticker, signed a petition etc… are members even if they have never requested membership or paied dues)yet they are running around trying to paint “Get Equal” as some secretive group that won’t list out it’s mission, or backers.

    Funny becuase maybe if HRC had the same backers and didn’t have to spend all their time holding lavish fundraisers they would be more concerned about gay rights, than about their next black tie event.

    2. They are trying to say that the hunger strike etc… caused Choi to become unbalanced and he is only interested in his own glorification and not gay issues etc… Which I also think is funny because which organization is it who’s members line up for personal photos with every gay and gay friendly celeb at any event they host or are invited to? I don’t see Choi wasting time in line asking Lance Bass for a photo Op.

  • Steven Longview

    The NY National Guard won’t miss Choi. He only re-enlisted so that he could try get attention. He QUIT the Army in 2008. He called LGBT Soldiers that wouldn’t come out “cowards.”

    I have no respect or pity for Dan Choi. From the handcuffs to the one-week “hunger strike” Choi is just an attention-whore.

  • wannabegay2

    When Harvey Milk began his quest for equality, he was dismissed by the gay leadership, they told him he was crazy, he was too radical, that his ideals were too much. The gay “elite” would not endorse him. Yes, he was nuts, yes he was ahead of his times, but he ended up becoming a hero.

    History will tell if Dan Choi was a crazy, attention whore or just believed in his cause that much that he would do insane things. I truly believe in him. Most of the people that dismiss him aren’t in the army and they don’t know what he’s been through.

    Keep in mind another thing: in order to generate change there’s only one answer that has been stated by Harvey Milk as well: come out of the closet! It’s as simple as this! So don’t accuse Dan Choi for calling the closeted soldiers cowards. Imagine if tomorrow we would have thousands of soldiers and millions of civilians come out. The world would HAVE to accept us, no matter what. But we have to deal with what we’re given. And that is a bunch of walking closets that keep attacking the gay movement.

  • Michael @

    @Steven Longview:


    1. When did he use the word “cowards”?

    2. What have YOU done that comes anywhere close to what he has?

    3. What are YOUR credentials to “judge” that are better that Cong. Murphy and Admiral Steinman?

  • Michael

    The US military is not an institution to be changed from within. Never has been, and rightly so, never will be. Hence the reason for a civilian Commander in Chief. The buck stops at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • Kieran

    The American government would have gladly let Dan Choi protect, fight and die for “liberty and justice for ALL” on behalf of the citizens of Israel, Iraq or Afghanistan. The problem was, Dan Choi wanted to fight for “liberty and justice for all” on behalf of gay American citizens right here in the United States. He actually wanted to highlight and fight against the oppression of gay citizens right here in America. Can you believe that? For the impertinence of this uppity fag, he HAD to be discharged.

  • Dawson

    IMO, there is a major anti-minority segment in the gay community. I think the fact that Choi is Asian might be a huge part of these mixed reviews of what he is doing. Some love him, some hate him. I think if he was a good ole redneck white boy he might get some of those haters to love him a little more. Kind of a shame really.

  • Dawson

    @wannabegay2: I think you really need to judge “heroes” by what they manage to accomplish, and since Milk mostly accomplished NOTHING, I’m not sure how you can call him a hero.

    As far, as the you need to come out to generate change rhetoric, there are many states in this country where coming out would generate great amounts of change: you’d change your job after you were fired, you’d change your apartment after you were evicted, you’d change your phone number after you couldn’t stop getting harassing phone calls.

    Its not right, its not fair, but it is necessary to be in the closet in a great many of these 50 states if you want to have the semblance of a life without fear and suppression. Certain laws need to change before people can be themselves. This is the reason that ENDA and not DADT should have been the number one priority.

  • wannabegay2

    @Dawson: please check one other article on queerty, about out gays and lesbians in uganda. and after that try to justify all the closet cases in the US. being in the closet is not a healthy option, its just a choice made out of cowardliness…

    and saying that h. milk didnt accomplish anything shows that you dont know your gay history.

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